Congress in Bern:
Interesting results from cannabis in the field of medicine

Alexander Kristen and Prof. Dr. Rainer Schmid attended the SACM conference “Cannabinoids in the Field of Medicine – New Trends” in Bern.
Summary: Many studies have now shown that cannabis has been used successfully in psychiatry, as well as for pain management in the treatment of neuropathic illnesses. There has been a lack of clinical studies on the use of cannabinoids in cancer treatment until now, but there are signs of movement here.

Rudolf Brenneisen is professor of pharmacy and is considered to be one of the leading international cannabis researchers. He worked as an external chemist and analyst for the US drug authority DEA and was research group leader in the clinical research department at the University of Bern from 1998 until 2014. He is a member of the Swiss working group for cannabinoids in the field of medicine and, together with his colleagues, organised the high-level congress on 12 November in Bern. For decades, Brenneisen has been fighting for a demystification and recognition of the plant as a remedy. He gained his reputation as a leading expert in cancer research on account of his pioneering research. In addition to promoting exchange between the world’s leading cannabis experts, a central goal of his conference was to lay the foundation for a readmission of hemp products in medicine. Because, as Brenneisen recently stated in the Wiener Zeitung: „In my opinion, it is untenable from an ethical-medical point of view that a medication with which a patient has had good results has to be obtained illegally from the street. Quality and composition, the balance of the active substances and ingredients are thus an unknown quantity, and patients also don’t know whether the cannabis has been treated with pesticides. However, the demand exists.“

The fact that the demand for cannabis in medicine exists and is continuously growing also comes as no surprise during this conference. Numerous doctors reported impressive results in medicinal usages, such as for cancer, for inflammatory bowel diseases, for neurological diseases and also in palliative medicine. Talks were also given on international prescription models, such as those in the USA and Israel, as well as on the legal and regulatory aspects. Austrian general practitioner Dr. Kurt Blaas held an almost euphoric talk on “Cannabinoids in Austrian family practice”.

By means of many patient case studies, Blaas demonstrated that cannabis alleviates pain and relaxes seizures and generally works very well – and that it does so without side effects, especially among those patients for whom no other medicines have had any impact for years. Many studies meanwhile prove that the plant is of medicinal benefit in psychiatry, in the treatment of pain as well as in the treatment of neuropathic diseases. The use of cannabinoids in treating cancer was also addressed at the congress, but the step from the pre-clinical to the clinical phase has not yet been taken for cost reasons. However, the cannabis congress also had hopeful news in this connection: The effects of Sativex medication in combination with the cytostatic temozolomide on the malignant brain tumour glioblastoma are to be examined in a planned clinical study by Dr. Guillermo Velasco.

In the programme „Tagesgespräch“ Talk of the Day) on Swiss radio and television, Prof. Brenneisen explained why the readmission of cannabis products in medicine is an urgently necessary step for research and medicine. The discussion can be heard on:

We had the impression that this goal has come one more step closer as a result of this conference.

Alexander Kristen, Geschäftsführer MCRA, Ao. Univ.-Prof. Dr. Rainer Schmid, Chemiker und Toxikologe, wissenschaftlicher Leiter der MCRADas The MCRA team in Bern

Front row (from left to right): Alexander Kristen, managing director of MCRA, Prof. Dr. Rainer Schmid, chemist and toxicologist, scientific head of MCRA

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